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Tara Reade revisited

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I want to say a couple more things about this, having had a chance to look at the evidence more closely since I first commented on the matter a couple of days ago:

I never mentioned anything about Reade’s allegations until after Lynda LaCasse’s story was published on Monday, because the pattern of those allegations taken as a whole looked very dubious. Recall that Reade’s story as of April of 2019 was this:

β€œHe [Biden] used to put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck,” Reade said. β€œI would just kind of freeze and wait for him to stop doing that.”

In March of 2020 her story became this:

Reade alleged that Biden had pushed her against a wall and penetrated her with his fingers in a Capitol Hill office building in 1993.[3] Reade made the allegation in an interview with Katie Halper which was released as a podcast on March 25, 2020. Reade later told NPR, “His hands went underneath my clothing and he was touching me in my private areas and without my consent.” She said that when she pulled away, Biden looked puzzled and said, “Come on, man, I heard you liked me,” then told her that “You’re nothing to me, nothing.

Again, I didn’t comment on any of this at the time or subsequently, because the inconsistency between these two accounts of her experiences was so extreme that this disjunction by itself cast very serious doubt on her veracity. (Commenter Nick056 claims I didn’t comment on the story because Biden was being exculpated by the reporting to that point. He also claims that Rebecca Traister is publicizing Reade’s account because Traister wants to get Trump re-elected, as Trump’s re-election would be good for Traister’s book sales.)

I first commented on the story on Monday because Lynda LaCasse told Business Insider that Reade had told her the far more extreme assault story in 1995 or 1996, when they were neighbors.

What I didn’t know at the time was that LaCasse had spoken with Reade in 2019, when Reade publicized the first story:

In April 2019, Reade told a Nevada City, California, newspaper that Biden had inappropriately touched her and made her uncomfortable, though she did not accuse him of assaulting her.

It was after that story, LaCasse said, that she and Reade first revisited the conversation they’d had about Biden in the mid-’90s. “She mentioned that she had come forward,” LaCasse said, “and so I said, ‘Oh my gosh. Yeah. I do remember that.'”

There’s obviously a huge problem here, which is that the story Reade “came forward” with in 2019 bears no relationship at all to the story she told last month. Here’s what LaCasse told CNN yesterday:

LaCasse told CNN that in her conversation with Reade in the 1990s, she suggested that Reade file a police report. Reade responded that she had already had a conversation with her own mother about this topic. LaCasse said that she didn’t clearly remember other details of this exchange. For example, she said she might have referred Reade to a women’s shelter at the time, but said she wasn’t sure if she had.”But remembering somebody putting their hands up your skirt — that’s something you don’t forget,” LaCasse said.

But it was something she had forgotten — or at least, put out of her mind for years, LaCasse said. After the mid-1990s, she said she and Reade were not in touch, and it was only a few years ago that they reconnected around the time that Reade’s mother died. And according to LaCasse, it was last year when Reade brought up Biden that LaCasse told her that she remembered their conversation about the alleged sexual assault.

LaCasse was 35 or 36 years old when Reade purportedly told her that Joe Biden — who was a prominent politician at the time, having fairly recently botched the Anita Hill hearings for one thing — had sexually assaulted her. And of course Biden was constantly in the news from 2008 to 2016, when he was vice president.

Yet apparently LaCasse just forgot that she had been told by a at one time close friend and confidante that she had been sexually assaulted by one of the nation’s leading political figures.

This doesn’t seem credible. What seems more likely is that Reade did tell LaCasse back in the mid-1990s that Biden had been creeping on her in some way (which seems reasonably probable, given what other women have said about Biden), that LaCasse had only at best very vague recollection of that conversation — also quite probable, given the passage of time and the nature of the hypothesized conversation — and that LaCasse subsequently confabulated a memory about being told about the purported the sexual assault, when her friend was being viciously attacked as a Russian plant, after Reade went public with the sexual assault allegation.

(On a related note, Nathan Robinson coached Reade’s brother to change his story about what Reade told him about Biden’s behavior, which tells you all you need to know about Nathan Robinson.)

Now of course none of this is conclusive by any means. It’s possible that Reade is in fact telling the truth about what happened, or perhaps that she’s telling the truth about what she thinks happened, although it actually didn’t happen. But it seems far more probable, weighing all the available evidence, that she’s lying about the purported sexual assault.

Dealing with this sort of accusation, in regard to political as opposed to legal consequences, is tricky. If Biden were merely one of several possible candidates for the Democratic nomination, I think it would be appropriate to take it into account in deciding whether to support him.

This goes back to the point people made constantly about Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination hearing. Standards for evaluating evidence in the context of a job interview should be completely different than standards for evaluating evidence in a legal proceeding, let alone in a criminal trial. (To be clear, I think the odds that Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh are true are vastly higher than the odds that Reade’s allegations against Biden are true). Nobody has a presumptive right to be on the Supreme Court or to become president of the United States. If you think there’s, say, a 5% chance that Reade’s sexual assault allegation is true, it’s perfectly appropriate to take that imputed probability into account at the margin, when deciding whether to support Biden against other Democratic candidates.

But once Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee, then the calculus changes completely. It then becomes: should a 5% chance that this allegation is true lead to any attempt to keep Biden from getting the nomination? For reasons that are too obvious to belabor, the answer to that question is “no.” (For reasons that are even more obvious, the truth or falsity of this allegation is completely irrelevant to the question of whether one ought to vote for Biden instead of Trump).

And that, I hope, is the second and last thing I will have to say about this.

. . . Smintheus in comments:

If you want to assess the veracity of an accusation that stems from a single person, then you have to examine the credibility and integrity of the person generally, as well as the history of their relationship with the accused. You can’t legitimately say that’s off limits but meanwhile I choose to believe the unexamined accusation.In this case, the latter undermines the credibility of Reade’s claim. Until very recently, she publicly and repeatedly praised Biden – including praising him for his work on behalf of women’s rights, and endorsing his integrity. There’s also the fact that Reade has given multiple, contradictory accounts of how and why she left the job in Biden’s office. For all we know, none of them may be true; in any case, they show that she freely adapts and remakes her history of herself to suit the audience/occasion.The former, the question of her general credibility, makes Reade’s accusation seem even less solid. For example, her well documented and gnarly record of fluffing Vladimir Putin, denying Putin’s crimes, and gushing over his manliness doesn’t just make her look like a flake. She has also tangled herself into knots denying ever having said or done things wrt Putin that we can prove she is lying about. Likewise, her chronology of her own evolution in thinking about Putin is contradicted by the evidence. So we know she’s worse than a flake; she’s also an outright fake when it suits her.The record of her work for a small non-profit horse rescue in CA (“Pregnant Mare Rescue”) is particularly disturbing. The people who worked with her there described her as a liar, a crook, a con artist, and a highly intelligent manipulator of other people. From hiding a car on the Rescue property “so it won’t be repossessed”, to pilfering items from a charity raffle (shades of Firemen’s Ball), to secretly charging her own veterinarian bills to the nonprofit, to lying about nearly everying – Reade seems like the kind of person you learn not to trust and not to take anything at face value with.It’s not to say that some or all of her stories about Biden can’t be true. It does strongly suggest however that her word can’t be trusted – whether it’s her word now, or her word 25+ years ago.

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